Yeah, well ... first of all the "you get what you pay for" and "BE AFRAID" are such basic and predictable pieces of "advise" that it`s not worth getting into it here; but do understand that SuN is a site of Entrepreneurs first and foremost and that`s the spirit of making things happen yourself (and yes sometimes it means you actually do things, or at least what you can, before you start dropping the big bucks, like the big boys/companies, on what you can`t handle).
Get to know the "horse`s mouth" ... spend time on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Site
and learn what you can about what you are asking; ignorance is deadly and very costly vs. taking the time to get a basic feel for the complexity of your question(s) ... only you know what is really in your mind and the better you`re able to articulate/disclose (when it`s time) the better you will be able to invest the needed dollars into your I.P. when the time comes.
You can do your own searches (true you might make mistakes, but then you may also discover in short order that your idea is already "done" and you can get on with your next idea without having spent a cent): http://patft.uspto.gov/
... where you can search what`s online with them.
You can find a list of all the Agents and Attorneys who are licensed to practice before the USPTO here: https://oedci.uspto.gov/OEDCI/
... do consider an agent vs. a full blown lawyer as they are cheaper (yeah you get what you pay for and you need to decide on how much protection you need and can afford) but still better than doing it all by yourself (which you can certainly do).
Understand that as an "inventor" you are the primary target and revenue stream of whole groups of people and businesses ... they exist to provide you with goods and services; they make money right up front regardless of anything else ... money you`ve already said you don`t have, or at least wisely don`t have to toss into a "hunch" on a potential improvement and all that jazz.
Going back to your "original question": Yes, patents can be assigned to improvements (and there is a wide swath here so be aware of how someone can also improve upon your improvement; and know there are economic considerations and/or claims involved in manufacturing and selling something with multiple claimants on the parts and all that jazz).
Yes you should go to the "existing manufacturer" ... or someone like them as what you are really trying to do is make money off of something you have no intention of actually building and selling yourself ... this is called licensing ... how you approach them and why and all kinds of fun things are all over the web, but one site where the cool kids hang out is "InventRight
" ... point being is how an idea has no value until it`s made/sold and someone already in the business is much more likely to "do it" as all their costs are lower for obvious reasons. (Oh, and you should "do" the SuN "5 Steps to Creating and Licensing an Invention"
Anyway, I`m rambling on here and wasn`t going to post at all ... I`m not a lawyer (the only one on SuN I know of is about as helpful as tits on a boar) so please do understand I`m not trying to sell/push you anywhere and opinions are just to let you know that not everyone does what was posted above and in the end of things it comes down to what you want, can afford, and your stomach for risk ... ah, that`s kind of what`s required of Entrepreneurs in general.
Have fun and do post back what/where you go with your product.
, a simple taco maker:
The Tiger Taco home in the U.S.A.Tiger Tacos in AustraliaTiger Tacos in the United Kingdom